S. Korea handily defeats Venezuela 3-1 in football friendly

September 5, 2014
Lee Dong-gook starts to celebrate after scoring Korea's second goal of the game. (Yonhap)

Lee Dong-gook starts to celebrate after scoring Korea’s second goal of the game. (Yonhap)

BUCHEON, South Korea (Yonhap) — South Korea came from behind to defeat Venezuela 3-1 in their football friendly match on Friday, with a veteran striker celebrating his milestone match with a pair of goals.

Playing in his 100th international match, South Korean striker Lee Dong-gook headed in the go-ahead goal early in the second half and netted an insurance marker for good measure, giving the host a win before more than 34,000 fans at Bucheon Stadium, just west of Seoul.

This was South Korea’s first international contest since the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in June.

Venezuela opened the scoring on a South Korean gaffe in the 21st minute. Goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon botched his goal kick and the ball landed right where Mario Rondon was standing just a few meters away, and the Venezuelan forward deftly lobbed it over the helpless Korean custodian to make it 1-0.

South Korean midfielder Lee Myung-joo brought the host 12 minutes later. Midfielder Lee Chung-yong took a pretty feed from Son Heung-min and tried to put a shot on net from the left side of the box. The ball instead went off a Venezuelan defender and found the wide-open Lee Myung-joo, who struck it past goalkeeper Reny Vega.

South Korea nearly went ahead two minutes from half-time, when Lee Chung-yong’s header off Son’s cross just sailed above the crossbar.

The host picked up right where it left off in the second half, and then Lee Dong-gook put South Korea ahead for good as he headed in a corner by Kim Min-woo in the 51st minute.

Lee then doubled the lead for South Korea, pouncing on a loose ball near the penalty area in the 63rd minute.

By appearing in his 100th match, Lee, 35, joined eight other former players in the exclusive ‘Century Club,’ reserved only for those who have played in at least 100 matches for their country.

Lee is the leading scorer in the K League Classic this year with 11 goals in 22 matches and is also the all-time leader with 165 goals in 370 matches.

South Korea played without a head coach. Earlier in the day, the Korea Football Association (KFA) announced the naming of former German international Uli Stielike as the new bench boss, filling in the vacancy left when Hong Myung-bo resigned in July after the World Cup.

The KFA said Stielike will arrive in South Korea on Monday and will attend the country’s friendly match against Uruguay later that evening.

Three coaches served on the bench Friday and will do so again on Monday against Uruguay. Shin Tae-yong, a former head coach in the top domestic circuit K League Classic, is currently the de facto bench boss by seniority at age 43.